Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Choices on energy independence - a "pre-buttal"

The Boston Globe is reporting that John Kerry’s acceptance speech will link national security to reducing America’s dependence on Mideast oil.  In stump speeches, Kerry has stated: “No American soldier should ever have to die for Middle East oil.”  But the proposals that Kerry has put forward to ostensibly address the energy independence issue rely on developing technologies that do not currently exist, such as repeated calls for “a new generation of fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Putting aside the cost and feasibility of replacing the American automotive fleet with hybrids, Kerry’s energy proposals cannot avoid an impression of demagoguery and a lack of seriousness.  As they stand, all of Kerry’s initiatives would require decades, if not generations, to reduce America’s appetite for foreign oil.  If nothing is more critical than protecting American troops and our national security, surely more sweeping and decisive steps must be taken than offering incentives to automakers (i.e. tax breaks to rich corporations).

One option – unpopular as it may be – is to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.  Then all the money that could be going to Saudi Arabia would instead stay in America: a double benefit.  But John Kerry has (proudly) opposed development in ANWR because it would upset the caribou.  Here’s how Charles Krauthammer characterized this mindset:

ANWR is the poster child of cake-and-eat-it-too eco-petulance. It's a place so remote and so desolate that not one American in a million will ever see it. Exploration would affect no more than 8 percent of the refuge. Rather than disturb the mating grounds of caribou, however, our exquisite environmentalists have prevented exploration of what could be our next Prudhoe Bay.
Instead, over and over, John Kerry has insisted that we can meet the energy demands of a 21st century America through the development of renewable energy.  Fine: one company called Cape Wind wants to build 130 wind turbines off the southern shore of Cape Cod; according to the Department of Energy, the wind farm could free up enough natural gas to power 100,000 Massachusetts homes.  But when the sacrifice of alternative energy affects John Kerry’s Nantucket mansion view, well, the flip-flopping begins:

In December, in New Hampshire, when asked his position on wind power, Kerry brought up Cape Wind. "I am in favor of wind power, and I think we ought to find a place that is appropriate off the coast of New England to build some wind power," the Manchester Union-Leader reported him saying. "The question is, what is the site process going to be? You can't just allow anybody to go build one anywhere they want without some kind of process."
Even Greenpeace is calling on the Senator to explain his position:

“Kerry is the one who really needs to be called out on this stuff,” said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace. “He’s been pretty mum so far. We don’t know where he stands.”
Davies added, “He’s obviously very pro-renewable energy; he knows the climate better than almost anyone in the Senate. And by that logic, he should be in favor of this project being implemented.”
But no.  So when John Kerry tells you that national security goes hand-in-hand with energy independence, his position (as usual) comes with qualifications: our security is no more important than Alaskan caribou or Ted Kennedy’s Hyannisport ocean view.

[Cross posted on Blogs for Bush]

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